America can’t ignore the cost of Medicare
Gary Dielman loves Medicare and thinks that everyone should be enrolled in some similar program. But he leaves out some important information in his hymn of praise for that program — its long range prospects. They are not so rosy.
Medicare already spends more each year than it takes in. This will only get worse as more and more baby boomers retire. As things stand, Medicare will be bankrupt in about a decade. Worse yet, it has an unfunded future liability of $30 trillion. The program’s own officials say that Obamacare does nothing to correct this situation.
European countries are learning that the cornucopia of government goodies does have a bottom, and several of them already are getting awfully close to it. Greece is the poster child for out-of-control entitlements, and has narrowly escaped national bankruptcy only by being bailed out by other countries. We are on that same path, just not as far along as Greece.
We have already had a warning shot across our bows. For the first time in history, our bond rating has been downgraded from AAA to AA. The reason given? It’s the huge unfunded liabilities of our country’s entitlement programs. We will not be upgraded back to AAA until Medicare and our other entitlement programs are restructured and put on a more financially sound basis.
We must get that situation corrected as quickly as possible. Otherwise, our legacy to our children and grandchildren is going to be one of crippling debt.
Republican Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has submitted a plan to Congress which would do just that. Current retirees would continue under the present Medicare program, but future retirees would have the option to choose some other financially sound health care program. But Democrats are officially in a state of denial. They assert that Medicare has no long term problems, and they adamantly refuse to consider any significant changes to the program. They are content to continue kicking the can down the road, leaving future generations to clean up the mess they will left behind.
Be careful what you post on Facebook
In most households, one or more members regularly use Facebook, revealing personal information to the entire cyber world. An avid Facebook user myself, I’m at times amazed what people will post. The following story might make you think twice about what you post on Facebook. As it should!
For the most part, I have a rule against posting personal information on social sites. However, recently I posted information after having surgery. The thought process was to thank my many friends for supporting me with their prayers and comments. At first, it seemed a great idea, and much easier than sending 2,300 thank-you notes. Many posted their get-well wishes, and my heart was filled with joy.
A friend ask if I needed anything. “A huge bottle of Tylenol” I replied. The next thing you know, I was holding the biggest bottle of acetaminophen I’d ever seen! The whole neighborhood must have heard my laughter. I could not keep this to myself! I posted a picture of the bottle with a note stating “Well, I ask for a bottle of Tylenol, lol!” The comments started pouring in. “I hope he gave you something better than that, just out of surgery,” one man replied. This is where I turned stupid.
“Yes, he did,” I replied. “He gave me Oxycodone 5mg, but, they make me feel disconnected.” The very next day four people knocked upon my door. Two of whom I did not know, one neighbor, and one person whom I had spoken to briefly as he passed the house. One even sent his mother the next day! I heard every excuse for why, “If I could only spare a couple” how much better their life would be. One claiming cancer.
It was at this moment I learned a valuable lesson. Posting personal information on Facebook could have dangerous consequences! Those folks who showed up, they could have robbed and/or killed me; all for narcotics! Addiction is a powerful thing. It brought total strangers to my home. And, there are perverts and criminals lurking on all these sites! What are you or your children posting? Is this the feedback you want?
Former HBC director responds to newspaper story
First of all, I haven’t left the area ... as a matter of fact, I spent about an hour in the Herald office today, just chatting ...
Second, I wasn’t fired. It is this very sort of reporting without checking facts that has made it untenable to work here. If I were associated with the Herald, I would check with Clair Button and several others why HBC had to spend money it should not have had to spend. Get the facts straight or don’t bother reporting it.
Get rid of smartphones and I’ll go back to a muzzle loader
I just read a letter to the editor from a lady from Portland — where else? — saying that we should completely ban guns. Maybe she is right. I’m sure that human nature has changed since the Founders divided government into three competing branches and had a Bill of Rights guaranteeing our freedoms. Evidently we can completely trust government now.
She does make a point. At the time of the founding of the nation we just had muzzle-loading rifles. Now the government we trust has fully automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines. Along the lines of the urban liberal thoughts about those first weapons we should remember that the means of communication at the time was pen and ink and a printing press. So if you will give up your television, radio, smartphones, computers and the Internet I will go back to a muzzle loader.
Obamacare is a small step, when we need a giant one
I completely agree with Mr. Dielman’s Oct. 16 letter about the U.S. medical care financial chaos. So-called Obamacare is a tiny and incremental improvement; but, in my humble opinion, Obamacare is more of a “welfare for insurers” program than any giant step toward a sane (i.e., single-payer) national med-care financing system.
My pretty good and dear wife of 42 years has been in various hospitals since July 30, 2013. She’s now 66 years old, so U.S. Medicare pays most of the billings. After numerous visits to several hospitals in Baker City and Boise, my already pretty high respect for RNs has gone way up. RNs are the true backbone of an otherwise chaotic U.S. med-care system; and, RNs (rather than insurance company execs and coding nerds) deserve a max share of every dollar that we pay for med-care.
MDs are OK, too; but, if every MD at some big hospital took a week off, the RNs would muddle through. If all their RNs took just one day off, by noon of that day, same big hospital’s operations would implode.
We can revive economy if we just use our resources
The economic crisis is not over. This problem didn’t just happen, it was created by shortsighted, wrong-headed thinking by government officials over the last 40 years. It won’t be cured by government money manipulations or working the printing presses overtime.
First we must recognize the basic facts of life.
No person, company or country can continue to spend more than they earn.
We need jobs and money. All new wealth comes from the ground, there is no other source. It is created when we harvest the produce and resources of the earth. It is expanded when they are processed and manufactured into more valuable productions.
In the guise of protecting the environment, government agencies have so seriously regulated these industries that many of them curtailed or shut down or moved overseas.
I have been a member of the mining industry for over 60 years and it has been seriously damaged. It is absolutely vital to the economy of this country. You cannot manufacture one single thing without using minerals directly or indirectly.
You can advocate increased American manufacturing, but what do we make things out of? If we have to import the raw materials for our factories, the major differences in our production cost is labor, that puts us in a rough position competitively.
One hundred fifty years ago our forefathers realized that for our country to grow and prosper they had to encourage people to go out into the open land and develop farms and mines, so they passed the Homestead Act that gave people title to land they developed, and they passed mining laws to encourage miners to prospect and open mineral deposits.
The Forest Service and BLM have done everything they can to restrict this production.
The fact is that we have regulated our country out of business.
At no government expense we could greatly stimulate our economy and jobs if we could require our agencies to recognize and obey congressional laws and relax many of the environmental restrictions that have little or no long-range benefit to the majority of the people of our country.
Raffling AR-15 rifle is insensitive
While reading the Record Courier I was shocked to see the Baker County Republicans are raffling off an AR-15 for a fundraiser. After calling multiple state agencies about this raffle apparently this is legal in Oregon and multiple GOP counties are doing it. Just think of the outrage if they raffled 100 cartons of cigarettes, what sort of a reaction could we expect? Cigarettes are legal, too. This simply sends an unfortunate message.
State Sen. Ginny Burdick who has backed unsuccessful legislation that would have outlawed military-style semi-automatic rifles, expressed disgust with these types of drawing in a recent article in the Oregonian:
“Five thousand people have been shot to death since Sandy Hook,” she said, referring to last December’s shooting massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, “and for the Republicans to be out there with this gun as their emblem is in very poor taste. But it is a free country.”
I say forget the assault weapons ban, it’s time to ban guns completely. The idea that it is unreasonable to demand a complete ban on guns, while the gun lobby refuses to give an inch, is a prime example of complete right-wing denial. How is it good and proper for Oregon to prohibit gay marriage, but controlling guns would be an unconscionable limit on “freedom.” Why do people even need guns? When the founding fathers created the Second Amendment they were referencing muskets not machine guns with maximum clip sizes. Look at the thousands of people who have been shot to death since Sandy Hook and the recent shooting in Grant County that killed two people from Baker City. We need to start far more drastic measures against guns if we are going to save our children and ourselves. It is far past time to call for a total ban on guns. And if it takes a constitutional amendment, so be it.
Regardless of where you stand on the gun debate, this AR-15 raffle is insensitive and horrible political messaging. The GOP is going to continue to lose elections unless their messaging improves dramatically.
Laura J. Link
Another possible solution to nation’s health care issue
Replacing Obamacare with a single-payer system of medicine as Gary Dielman advocates seems like a good idea. Medicine for profit will lead to abuse by the insurance companies — and by the MDs themselves, as they are after all human too. How many ineffective or damaging therapies and procedures have we seen phased out slowly so that we might not notice it? And we must wonder how many are still in place. I recently tried to get access to the OHSU medical library to try to clear up some medical matters and was told that I would need to be appointed to the medical faculty to receive online library privileges. This is a library system paid for with my tax dollars! Which brings up why a single-payer system wouldn’t work in our current top-down political system: collusion between the medical system and government, as well as the influence of drug companies.
In 1983 when I started working in hospitals, the government tried to introduce Diagnostic Related Groups (DRGs) a scheme to fix payments for any particular condition. If a hospital could direct treatment successfully for less, they would pocket the difference and standard reimbursements could then be whittled down. The doctors, administrators and insurance companies killed that one in a hurry! It would have been an example of how, with intelligent and responsible government oversight, medicine-for-profit could work. (There is also the matter of how under the present system, one can patent anything that works — including drugs — but not medical therapies.)
The solution I am proposing is a mixed one. The government would determine a reasonable payment for each diagnosis, subject to adjustment based upon details of the case. The patient would then be free to go to any provider that would accept that reimbursement (voucher) amount. The government would also offer an option of free medical service and hospitalization, manned by licensed personnel. Thus an open for-profit system and a socialized system would be in direct competition. The result, I am sure, would be a dramatic reduction in the overall cost of effective medical care.
R. Mack Augenfeld
Baker City Senior Center is truly a special place
The recent letter from Ramona and John Creighton was right on. I would like to add my story.
My late husband, Leo, and I began visiting the Senior Center in 1980 or so, when it was housed in the Extension Building. Leo soon joined the Buddy Band which played for every dance or function requiring music until he had to put away his beloved saxophones about 1998. Leo decorated the hall for every holiday or occasion. I handed him ribbons, pins or tape. Leo was president of the Baker County Seniors for several years. He passed away June 6, 2003.
In 1982, Peggi Timm asked me to be treasurer of the Seniors. I have carefully accounted for every penny — even those found in the pockets of donated clothing or on the pavement of the parking lot. I have asked numerous people if they would like the job. Answers have ranged from “Oh, I don’t think so” to “Hell no!” I’ll carry on as long as I can.
Replace Obamacare? Yes, but with single-payer system
Letter writer Pete Sundin and Republicans in Congress do not like Obamacare. Yet Sundin and the Republicans offer no solution for fixing what the U.S. presently has: the most expensive and yet ineffective health insurance system among the world’s First World countries.
Our counterparts in Canada and Europe provide health insurance for ALL of their citizens at almost a THIRD less cost and get better results. Why do I emphasize “third?” Because that is the profit raked off the top by extremely inefficient, profit-minded insurance companies, before they pay a dime for your medical care.
Get rid of private insurance companies and replace them with a government-run, single-payer system and what do you have? Medicare! Take a poll of Americans and ask them if they want to get rid of Medicare, which manages the health insurance of our senior citizens with a 4 percent overhead, as opposed to the corporate insurance industry’s 30-plus percent. Only Tea Party types would advocate turning over Medicare to private insurance.
Obamacare has its flaws — the biggest one being it’s not a single-payer system — but at least it does not leave uncovered 30 million of our poorest citizens in this most affluent country in the world. And under Obamacare insurance companies may not turn anyone down for pre-existing health problems.
Better than playing political brinkmanship, why don’t Democrats and Republicans in Congress get behind a single-payer system?
For a good discussion of single-payer health insurance, go to this website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-payer_health_care
A majority of Americans don’t want Obamacare
Obamacare is at the center of the current Congressional impasse. Republicans have voted to defund it; Democrats refuse to do so. Let’s take a look at the short history of this issue.
In 2008, the American people gave the presidency and control of Congress to the Democrats so they would move the country out of the morass of the Great Recession. Instead, they passed an ineffective stimulus package loaded with political pork, then spent months wrestling with health care. And instead of reducing the amount of governmental meddling in the health care market, they engineered the governmental takeover of one-sixth of the American economy.
No Congressman had read all the bill’s 2000+ pages. Nancy Pelosi famously said, “Let’s pass it so we can see what’s in it.” There was chicanery in its final passage. No Republicans voted for it.
At the time, a majority of Americans were opposed to Obamacare, and in November 2010, voters gave their opinion of Democratic husbandry with a Republican romp, both at the federal and state levels. Obamacare would never have been passed by the next Congress.
Obamacare was supposed to make health care more affordable. But it was never explained how the same government that pays $500 for hammers and suffers billions annually in Medicare fraud was somehow going to run health care efficiently and economically. And indeed, the reverse has been true. Americans now suffer from annual double-digit increases in their health insurance premiums. Many small companies find that they no longer can afford to provide health insurance for their employees.
Federal employees want no part of Obamacare; they prefer their existing health care plans. Labor unions worked hard for its passage, but now they line up seeking exemptions from it. If Obamacare is so wonderful, why do these highly Democratic groups avoid it like the plague?
Most polls show that a majority of Americans continue to oppose Obamacare. Yet Senate Democrats are adamant; they will not give an inch. President Obama vows a presidential veto. Democrats insist on imposing on the American people this unpopular, expensive monstrosity of a program, Obamacare.
City Council urges renewal of downtown economic district
Baker City has begun the process to renew the Economic Improvement District in our downtown community.
Since the early 1980s, much work has been done to create an attractive commercial area that entices people to visit and do business. We have seen a great deal of success since those efforts began. With the initial implementation of the Economic Improvement District, we were able to leverage community monies to encourage millions of dollars in private investment. If the Economic Improvement District had not been in place, our downtown community would not have had the dedicated resources needed to make so many of our wonderful improvements that have happened.
Property and business owners will once again consider the renewal of the Economic Improvement District. We urge our fellow citizens to support this renewal. Let’s keep our downtown community vibrant and healthy for generations to come.
Baker City mayor
Baker City Council members
Republican Party lacking true statesmen
The Herald’s political cartoon on Sept. 30 offers a good look at the state of today’s Republican Party, which is “stuck on (Senator Ted) Cruz control” as it drives our nation off a cliff in pursuit of unattainable ideological goals. Thanks to right-wing extremists, a manufactured state/fiscal crisis two or three times a year has become the new normal.
Senate Democrats and President Obama would be foolhardy to give in to unbridled, extortionist GOP demands. The fiscal year 2014 United States Budget has already been taken hostage in a futile attempt to overturn the law of the land. The likely next threat is even bigger. Failure to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17 will shake global financial markets, which rely on both U.S. Treasuries as one of the major sources of funding, and the U.S. dollar to conduct global transactions. Our once-proud nation could well be driven to its knees.
Should a statesmanlike choice be made, the House leadership and moderate House Republicans could actually join with House Democrats to pass a “clean” budget resolution and end the impasse right now. But there may be no room left for real statesmen and statesmanship in today’s GOP.
What the Herald’s political cartoon does not explicitly show is the Republican House majority leadership, including Representative Greg Walden, cowering in fear at right-wing threats. On one hand, there are tea party extremists within their own ranks who threaten to strip them of their leadership jobs if they attempt to compromise with Democrats. On the other hand, they face wealthy ultra-conservatives, like the Club for Growth, who threaten to fund primary-election challenges against Republicans who fails to toe the tea party line.
New polls indicate that House Republicans may lose their majority status in the next election as a result of their current actions. But that’s over a year away. Maybe we can change the game now. My fellow readers, please contact Rep. Walden, urging him to rise up and put the country first, and use his House leadership position to avert the severe damage that otherwise appears imminent.
Senior Center is a gem that’s open to everyone
Why I go to the Senior Center?
I guess the question should be why I didn’t go sooner.
My husband and I had retired and were doing the long-needed remodel on our kitchen. Food was getting to be a hassle so we decide to try the Senior Center. As we drove up we both looked at each other like really we are not ready to be in an old folks’ dining room.
To our surprise the group was a variety of ages laughing, having fun and enjoying life. The low price of the meals shocked us and the company was upbeat and interesting. We enjoyed ourselves so much we still go at least three times a week. I can’t cook a meal for what I get at the Senior Center.
But lunch isn’t the only thing they offer.
Join them for a large variety of activities. Line dancing, exercise group, tai chi, foot clinic, bingo, pool, books you can borrow. Don’t forget our best-kept secret is the clothing closet that has quality clothes for low prices.
But most of all it is about the people. They have great stories and boy do they know their history. Their stories make Eastern Oregon come alive for me.
Stop in, pick up a menu, meet new friends. Don’t let the word “senior” scare you — all ages are welcome.
The two of us are grateful for this rare gem in Baker City.
Ramona and John Creighton
Shoot out some car tires
All afternoon today we were barraged by news people telling us how marvelously well trained the capitol police and the other police officers were who reacted to the fuss today near the U.S. Capitol. If they are so well trained, why didn’t they do the right thing? What was the right thing? The right response would have been to stop waving their guns around so much and shoot out some tires on the woman’s car.
Carl R. Kostol
Demand law banning pit bulls
There doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming outrage over the pit bull death of a young boy. I blame it on the apathy drugs the government has been putting in the water. There seems to be no other explanation.
When I was growing up on the farm it was understood that if a dog even nipped a child someone was going to take it out behind the barn and shoot it. The Oregonian refers to the differences between how things are handled as the urban/rural divide.
About 10 or 12 years ago, after a rash of pit bull attacks, there were attempts to ban them is some states and cities. They got it done in some places. In others the airheads prevailed and assured us that not all pit bulls are evil. It is only the way they were raised and you can’t judge all pit bulls by what a few outlaws do and all that — the kind of thinking you get from those with hearts bigger than their brains.
The best example of this was the ones who were going to rescue and rehabilitate Michael Vic’s fighting pit bulls. Some lucky dad, mom or grandpa is going to get one of these rehabs as a neighbor and will have to keep the children indoors. The press was glad to cover the rescue and rehab but I wonder if any of those rescued psycho mutts have killed any children.
I wrote my letters to the editor. I testified in front of the City Council and urged the County Commission to ban the breed. No takers. No guts. What I said was going to happen did happen. If things follow the usual route, on Halloween night with kids congregated along Main Street there will be a couple of jackasses with some 60-pound pits on leashes in the middle of the kids.
Enough. I call on the men of this county to get in front of the County Commission and City Council to demand they pass laws to ban these monsters. If the County Commission won’t then there is the initiative petition route.
Pit bulls should be banned
Baker City has suffered, to my knowledge, two recent attacks by pit bulls. In one, an adult was seriously injured; in the second, a small child was tragically murdered. Like so many others I was saddened and heart-sick at the loss of the child’s life and outraged at the suffering he experienced during the attack.
My deepest sympathies go to the family at their loss in the wake of this unjustified death of their child.
It is inexcusable to allow as dangerous a breed as a pit bull to reside anywhere within the city; anywhere near small children. Even more inexcusable are the comments in defense of the breed following the death of the child.
No expression of remorse was forth-coming. How dare these individuals stand to the defense of a genetically engineered killing machine at this time immediately after this killing?
Examine the facts: Proportionally and historically small dogs have a higher rate of biting than larger dogs (USPS). Attacks by dogs are generally shows of aggression without a bite. Most dogs after connecting with a bite will break off and move away.
Pit bulls will not usually disengage without a strong response and have been shown to ignore pepper-spray and even having bones broken with a baseball bat. Killing the dog on the spot has proven successful in many cases. These are animals that once started are very difficult to stop, and therein lies the problem. Adults have been mauled to death by pit bulls, what chance does a child have?
Worse yet, all this is well known and documented. Yet the best the pit bull lovers can offer is strident yet vague defense of the breed. Sounds pretty delusional to me.
I believe the city should enact an ordinance banning pit bulls from residing within the city limits and require caged transport for the animals when passing through the city. The same ordinance should also rescind the state’s one-bite exemption specifically as it relates to pit bulls. They are an established danger to the community. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.